During the 1940s and 1950s, due to migration from India following
partition, extensive unorganized land invasion led to the establishment
of extensive squatter settlements (katchi abadis) on the then Karachi
periphery and on open urban lands. Traditional urban institutions
based on clan, cast and religion quickly collapsed. The settlements
densified over time as political instability prevented coherent
urban planning. The 1950s saw sharp urban increases as infant mortality
rates fell and rural-to-urban migration exploded when agricultural
production was modernized. The military government shifted the squatter
communities to two townships outside of Karachi. Squatter settlements
within the city were bulldozed and the affected people moved to
the storm drain lands that connected Karachi and the new townships.
The 1960s and 1970s had increased rural–urban migration through
urban pull factors. Under army rule, city institutions fell apart
and the Karachi Master Plan could not be implemented due to social
and political instability. From 1988 onwards, ethnic politics, conflict
and violence drove industry to other parts of the country, greatly
increasing unemployment in Karachi. In the absence of adequate housing
programmes, homelessness and informal settlement has increased,
as have densities in existing katchi abadis.
The government of Pakistan recognizes only two terms related to
unserviced or underserviced settlements:
abadis: these are informal settlements created through
squatting or informal subdivisions of state or private land.
these settlements consist of villages absorbed in the urban sprawl
or the informal subdivisions created on community and agricultural
land. Here, security of tenure is a rule; but there is no programme
to improve conditions other than through political patronage.
The katchi abadis are of two types:
established through unorganized invasion of state lands at the time
of partition; most of them were removed and relocated during the
1960s or have been regularized.
subdivisions of state land (ISD), further divided into:
notified katchi abadis: settlements earmarked for regularization
through a 99-year lease and local government infrastructure development;
non-notified katchi abadis: settlements not to be regularized
because they are on valuable land required for development, or
on unsafe lands.
The slums can also be divided into two types:
traditional pre-independence working-class areas now densified and
with inadequate infrastructure.
or old villages now part of the urban sprawl; those within or near
the city centre have become formal – others have developed
informally into inadequately serviced high-density working-class
Notified katchi abadis have secure tenure based on 99-year
leases; the un-notified ones have no security of tenure and are
scheduled for removal. Goths have secure tenure, while ISD on agricultural
lands only have secure tenure if declared katchi abadis.
Although little specific survey information is available on slum
dynamics, it is clear that slums are on the rise, notably to the
west and north of Karachi, as extensions of existing ISDs. Estimates
indicate an increase of close to 50 per cent between 1988 and 2000
from 3.4 to 5 million people.
Estimates indicate that about half of Karachi lives in katchi
abadis. Most individuals are employed in the informal sector.
An existing analysis of 20 ISD households is too limited an example
to draw city-wide conclusions about socio-political characteristics
of the ‘typical’ slum dweller.
The first major slum upgrading and poverty alleviation programme
was proposed for the 1988 to 1993 period. The programme largely
failed to meet its targets and regularizes only 1 per cent of the
katchi abadis per year due to faulty land records, corruption
and non-inclusion of grassroots organizations.
The Social Action Programme of 1993 supported NGOs for infra-structural
improvements, but failed largely due to lack of capacity.
Although notable successes have been achieved in terms of regularization
and infra-structural work (comparatively high electricity and water
connections to many of Karachi’s slum areas), too little has
been done to effectively address poverty and poor shelter conditions.
The impact of more recent programmes is still unclear due to a lack
of effective impact monitoring other than yearly reviews based on
the feedback of the very agencies that implement the programmes.
has been extracted from:
UN-Habitat (2003) Global Report on Human Settlements 2003, The Challenge
of Slums, Earthscan, London; Part IV: 'Summary of City Case Studies',